Thursday, June 30, 2011

Illustration Master Class 2011 - Day 8 The Voyage Home

During the week it felt like we had been at the Illustration Master Class for a month and each day that passed it felt like we had weeks of time left before us. I say this as a good thing. It was so intense and each day was so full of stimuli that time seemed to slow down. It has been just shy of two weeks since I started driving back from Massachusetts and I have been rolling everything around in my head that I learned and experienced at IMC. Some of it is a little vague to put into words, but I will try to address some of the larger points...

• Diagonals! Make sure you get diagonals into your compositions, they imply movement and lead the eye. A lot of verticals and horizontals give the felling of stability and can make a piece feel posed. More on this tomorrow when I post my painting from the IMC.

• Be aware of the foreground, middle ground and background.

• With figures: have a clear line of sight (this helps direct the viewer around the piece), give them movement, CLUMPING - People and things tend to group up and are not isolated, and lastly the thing Greg Manchess was practically jumping up and down screaming to everyone... OVERLAP! Have figures overlap each other, especially if they are suppose to be interacting with each other in the illustration. This will mean that you may want to take reference separately and together and work out compositions on the computer or with tracing paper till it is right. This will mean you may draw all the figures out completely and then overlap to make sure they are correct and you see everything you need to.

• Making good art is hard work. It takes years of hard work and effort to improve and learn your craft.


• Clients do not hire you because you can do everything - they hire you because you can do something no one else can.

• Be aware of the three aspects of color: HUE / VALUE / CHROMA (great... there is a third thing I now have to be aware of now... the intensity of the color!)

• To make color pop surround it with neutrals and grays.


• "Revisit your reference" is a really nice way of saying it looks wrong and you need to fix it.

• Chroma Shift, using color to define form rather then value alone. Still getting my head around this one, but I think it is really important.

• Adam Rex made three points: 1) Shake Hands 2) Sleep in car 3) They wouldn't call them bottom feeders if there was not food down there. (some thoughts on the early stages of his career)

• Portfolios should: have 8-12 images, show consistency, only show work that answers the client's problems, show the kind of work you want to get and show great figure work.

• Website should: be updated regularly, have no popups, thumbnails shouls be small versions of the final and not indecipherable little cut outs and keep it easy to navigate.

• Interviews, you should: impress - don;t embarrass, NEVER APOLOGIZE, don't argue critiques and send thank you notes - they are an excellent excuse to follow up.

I am sure I am forgetting dozens of more things, if not more, but that covers a lot of my written notes. So much was just absorbed slowly across the whole week. Lets get onto some images of leaving the IMC and heading south...

Green Man says good bye to the giant green man that was out in the green way near the dorms.

The great exodus has begun! Cars were packed and good byes were said. Everyone seemed to be already be eagerly looking forward to IMC 2012, including myself.

I salute the person or people that have to tackle this mighty pile of laundry.

Oh Hi, New York! I see you are right were I left you on the way north.

Unfortunately, there was not time in my schedule to stop at South of the Boarder on my way south. I think one visit was more then enough for me... but there will always be next year!

And so ends my adventures with the 2011 Illustration Master Class. I want to extend a huge thanks to Rebecca Guay for making this amazing think possible and to all of the rest of the faculty for their time, advice, patients and excitement for illustration. Without you all it would not be possible. And thanks to all my classmates for their friendship, companionship, enthusiasm, and encouragement through the week, you all made it so much fun and dispelled all my doubts and self consciousness.

See you back here tomorrow on the blog to see a step my step walk through of my 2011 IMC painting. Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
me regarding my availability head over to my website:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Illustration Master Class 2011 - Day 7

Day 7! And suddenly it was all over... well, maybe not just yet. There was still a flurry of activity in the morning as people did last minute work on their paintings or printed out their digital work. Still much to be done and there were some lectures scheduled for the morning that were not to be missed. After lunch everyone had to break down their work stations and have the studios cleared out in preparation for an open house event in the afternoon where people from the community were encouraged to visit and see the work. This was also a chance for everyone to get a good view of their classmate's work and to get sketchbooks signed and to socialize. A really enjoyable conclusion to a truly amazing experience. In the evening everyone met up at the local pool bar and there was much celebration and the playing of pool. Since I had to be up early the next morning to begin my drive back to Florida I had to call it an early night, but a truly fun on none the less. I can't wait to return next year to the 2012 Illustration Master Class!

The view from one of the digital studio windows. That is a really cool tree! Love the branch arrangement, will need to keep that in my reference collection.

A view of the back wall of work in the upstairs painting studio.

Another shot of RC Torres' painting. I am really digging it!

A shot of the far wall of the upstairs painting studio where work is still being done the morning of Day 7.

More displayed work from Greg Manchess. Rebecca Guay's piece is in there too. Beautiful work all around to feast the eyes on.

Though he didn't want me to take the picture here is another photo of Aaron Miller's painting as he takes a break from working on it.

Irene Gallo gave a really great lecture first up in the morning. This was followed by a faculty Q&A where we could ask anything that we forgot to during the week or we wanted the faculty as a group to answer. Not many places on Earth you can get this level of art skill and experience together in one place and pick their minds.

Rebecca told us she really was not going to cry as she gave her closing address.

Tara Larsen Chang oversaw a lot of the details and work in orchestrating the gifts from the student body to the faculty. She had a lot of help from other students but unfortunately I am at a loss for the names of everyone involved. The faculty received leather bound sketchbooks with their names on the covers. They were really sharp looking. Some of the students personalized the sketchbooks with drawings as well. Thanks Tara and everyone involved for making it possible to give something back to the faculty to show our appreciation. Needless to say the faculty got a standing ovation for all their help and time this week and for being so darn awesome.

It is a rather round about story, but sticking to the barest of details I as everyone broke into groups and going off to dinner I ended up in the studios helping clean up and getting everything back in order. This lead to me getting a chance to get a full page drawing in my sketchbook from Iain McCaig as well as being present to when Iain tore up his kneaded eraser and handed everyone a piece so that we could steal his power. We were all contemplating how many drawings this eraser had whipped clean. Iain told us that he goes through two pencils a day everyday and that he goes through a kneaded eraser every six days. Now that is dedication and hard work! All in all, it made it okay that I missed dinner to be there for all that.

That is all for today, Day 8 coverage will be up on the blog tomorrow! Wait... what? Day 8? Yup, just a little more to go over and then on Friday I will take you step by step through the painting I did while at the 2011 Illustration Master Class! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
me regarding my availability head over to my website:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Illustration Master Class 2011 - Day 6

DAY 6! If I had thought I was tired before now... If I had thought I had even previously experienced the days and even time itself blurring together into one indistinguishable moment... Day 6 proved me wrong. Despite my best efforts the amount of sleep I was getting each night had dwindled to a few hours while at the same time I increased my work efforts. Day 6 is the last full day that can be devoted to your painting and the people were really giving it their all. Many foresaw a very late night ahead of them. All that aside, there was still some great lectures and the group photo that needed to happen as well. I did get my painting to a finished state the evening of Day 6. Jeff Himmelman and Marc Scheff had to practically rip the stylus from my hands to get me to stop messing and futzing with the painting. More on that later in the week when I talk about the piece directly. How onto the pictures of the day...

The product of Iain McCaig's watercolor demo in all it's glory.

Rebecca Guay's work station. Something tells me the piece might still be wet, I hope everyone knows.

RC Torres keeps working away on his great piece. It is really coming together!

Even with all their help extended to the student body, Boris Vallejo (left) and Julie Bell (right) have had time to work on their pieces which are beginning to take shape.

Scott Fischer and Greg Manchess tag team on a painting, infusing it with a double dose of awesome.

Rebecca Guay back at work on her piece.

FINALLY! Iain McCaig did his creature design demo in the digital studio. That big white wall that you may have seen in my pictures of the digital studio turns out to be a well placed screen for projected demos. I had the perfect seat for it as well! Been waiting all week for this one. Iain placed on himself a real word deadline and criteria for the demo. 30 minutes to design a new monster for the Harry Potter universe. He would call out options and which ever option was repeated back by someone in the room would be the direction he would take the design. The process was broken down into three stages: One, do a really bad drawing laying out all the choices (pictured above); Two, find real world reference and draw that to help make the creature more real; and Three, draw the creature design. Each step received about 10 minutes. The design ended up being an aquatic apex predator with lots of teeth, eight arms and wings...

Iain draws at an amazing pace. Simply astonishing to see him work.

The final creature is almost done. He completed the entire process with time to spare and none of us was later for the the next lecture.

Scott Fischer's demo was a real hoot and full of the Zim Zam. Though it might be an altered document, Scott claimed from the age of four that he wanted to paint like Greg Manchess.

Time for the group photo! We thankfully had one patch of sun to get the photo. The rain and overcast skies had been the norm all week.

I had not expected it to go as smoothly as it did. Apparently artist are much more easy to direct into a group for a photo compared to some other group photos I have been present at. Everyone seemed to know their place and where to go.

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer noticed that I was taking some of my own pictures from the back.

The backs of more people's heads.

Iain's finished creation was on the display in the digital studio for the rest of the day. The creature was named the Blu Arcy.

Dan Dos Santos did a painting demo in the evening.

Aaron Miller hard at work on his painting.

Scott Fischer took pity on Green Man offered him some much needed junk food.

I will leave you today with a shot of the digital studio. It was a buzz of energy as people approached the end of the 2011 IMC and the completion of their paintings. I printed out my painting in preparation for the open house and work presentation the afternoon of Day 7.

That is all for today, Day 7 coverage will be up on the blog tomorrow! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
me regarding my availability head over to my website:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Illustration Master Class 2011 - Day 5

DAY 5! By Day 5 I had begun to loss all track of time and the days began to blur together into one continuous span of learning and working. Everyone was had at work and paintings began to take shape in both pixel and paint. Still a lot of time to go before the end of IMC and still some great lectures to attend. Speaking of lectures, there have been more then I have mentioned here on the blog. All of the faculty give one to two lectures and they cover a wide range of topics. Many of the faculty talk about their journey as artists, discussing childhood, education, breaking into the industry and what they did to define them as an artist. In addition, some faculty, like Greg Manchess, spoke about topics that affect all of us, as in his lecture on the myth of talent. Greg's lecture on this was amazing! Can't speak highly enough about it. You want to be an artist? You want to be a good artist? You want to be a great artist? Then you are going to need to work very hard for a very long time. There is not magic gene that makes some of us artist and some not nor is there a gene that makes up mediocre artists and great artists. It is all about having goals, deep practice (really concentrating as you work to improve your abilities, it is not enough to simply work a lot, you need to focus and try to improve while you do it - if not, you simply reenforce old bad habits) and accepting that it is hard work and it is going to take a lot of time and energy which is not going to be very fun at times. Enough of that for now... lets get on with Day 5 and some lectures...

Adam Rex was one of today's speakers and had a lot to share with us. As with all of the other lectures you get to see the long and winding path that he took as an artist to get to where he is today. We all have different goals and ways of getting there and it gives a lot of hope that if you keep at it and work hard that you can make it there.

Adam shared with us a piece of his first attempt at story telling from his childhood. It was an epic tale and involved his mom knifing fighting with dinosaurs. I think we were all in agreement that this was a story he needed to revisit and maybe finally publish.

Some images from Adam's sketchbook. He draws cool pandas!

Jeff Mack put on a good lecture as well talking about his adventures in the children's book industry. I sometimes think it was/is hard to navigate the gaming art industry until I hear about the struggles it takes to get a children's book made and I think maybe I am doing okay.

Digital lab is a hopping and a jumping with activity... though it might not seem that way from this photo. It was really great to see so many different ways to approach working digitally. We all had our own methods and styles. There is no one correct way to approach working with any tool, be it traditional or digital.

Drew Baker is hard to at work on his painting. I learned at the IMC that Drew likes to sit on the floor while painting. That is pretty cool and would have never imagined. Like I said, we all have our own ways of working and it was really exciting to see how everyone approaches creating art in their own way.

Upstairs painting studio hard at work.

Aaron Miller is putting paint to board and his Paul of Dune is starting to take shape!

Sam Flegal hard at work on his painting. Though I think moments later he was seen gnawing on the corner in frustration. I thought it was looking pretty cool!

Greg Manchess back at work on his *SECRET* painting.

Downstairs painting studio is a buzz with energy - though this one still image might not be conveying that very well.

Today I will leave you with Cynthia Sheppard and Lauren Cannon hard at work on their paintings in the downstairs painting studio.

That is all for today, Day 6 coverage will be up on the blog tomorrow! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
me regarding my availability head over to my website:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Illustration Master Class 2011 - Day 4

DAY 4! The half way point - to be honest by Day 4 it felt like we had been there for at least two weeks and the end of the IMC was still a far off distant point on the horizon. Each day was so packed with lectures, learning and working that it was almost overwhelming. Most everyone was working on their paintings and so many great pieces were beginning to take shape. By Day 4 I think some folks began to pull all nighters. I was given some advice from veteran IMC attendees when I arrived, "The goal is not to finish a painting. You should pace yourself and go to all the lectures and make sure you get up and go around to the other studios to see what people are doing and be sure to socialize." I tried to keep my nights from going to late, especially since I knew my body would be waking me up nice and early for no good reason. By Day 4 my caffeine and sleep cycle became really important to make sure I made it to the end fully awake and was getting the most out of IMC (especially since I had to drive two days back to Florida after it was all over). Day 4 began with another lecture by James Gurney...

James Gurney taking questions after his lecture on composition. James's books are amazing resources, but to hear him actually talk about these concepts and ideas was too much to ask for. Really informative and incredibly helpful.

I finally had a chance to get James to sign my books. I also had a chance to talk to him about the piece I was working on at the IMC. Apparently he has seen my little blog! :D

Scott Fischer working on an impromptu demo with one of the traditional painters. These are the kind of moments that make you realize you need to make sure you are taking time to visit the other studios so they are not missed.

Rebecca Guay demoing and working on her IMC piece.

RC Torres was working on a most excellent piece and it was a real treat to see it take shape

Drew Baker is up and working on color comps for his painting. See that? Planning ahead before getting started!

Donato Giancola working on his torture of Frodo at Cirith Ungol painting. So amazing to see him working on one of his paintings.

Cynthia Sheppard took a quick pause from working on her painting to let me take a picture. See all that reference? Planning planning planning! Make sure you prepare yourself for the work you are doing.

Boris Vallejo's IMC painting.

Julie Bell's IMC painting. I have always loved Julie's frilly snake dragons. The colors she puts into them are so beautiful.

Arron Miller almost posses for a picture in the first floor painting studio. A frenzy of activity if I ever saw one.

Early in the week, people commented that the digital studio was so much more quiet and subdued compared to the other two studios. By Day 4 the digital studio was rocking and rolling - well, I thought so, at least.

Not sure what Green Man is up to, but he decided to get a little friendly with Marc Scheff.

I will leave you with Iain McCaig doing a very late night water color demo. When Iain did anything there was a huge crowd and this was no different. It was kind of hard to get a look at what he was doing... but that was my own fault for getting there late. I will have a much better vantage point for his next demo.

That is all for today, Day 5 coverage will be up on the blog on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
me regarding my availability head over to my website: